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The Production of Honey

The Production of Honey

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Published by Yinka Akinkunmi
Production of honey, beekeeping, management of bees, packaging blossom
Production of honey, beekeeping, management of bees, packaging blossom

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Published by: Yinka Akinkunmi on Aug 03, 2012
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09/24/2013

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The Production Of Honey
The obtaining of honey from bees is generally the primary object of their culture. Bees gather nectar to make into honey for their own use as food, but generally store more than they need, and this surplus thebee keeper takes away. By managing colonies early in the spring as previously described the surplusmay be considerably increased. The secret of maximum crops is to "Keep all colonies strong."Honey is gathered in the form of nectar secreted by various flowers, is transformed by the bees, andstored in the comb. Bees also often gather a sweet liquid called "honeydew," produced by various scaleinsects and plant-lice, but the honeydew honey made from it is quite unlike floral honey in flavor andcomposition and should not be sold for honey. It is usually unpalatable and should never be used aswinter food for bees, since it usually causes dysentery (p. 40). When nectar or honeydew has beenthickened by evaporation and otherwise changed, the honey is sealed in the cells with tappings ofbeeswax.It is not profitable to cultivate any plant solely for the nectar which it will produce, but various plants, suchas clovers, alfalfa, and buckwheat, are valuable for other purposes and are at the same time excellenthoney plants; their cultivation is therefore a benefit to the bee keeper. It is often profitable to sow someplant on waste land; sweet clovers are often used in this way. The majority of honey-producing plants arewild, and the bee keeper must largely accept the locality as he finds it and manage his apiary so as to getthe largest possible amount of the available nectar. Since bees often fly as far as 2 or 3 miles to obtainnectar, it is obvious that the bee keeper can rarely influence the nectar supply appreciably. Beforedeciding what kind of honey to produce the bee keeper should have a clear knowledge of the honeyresources of his locality and of the demands of the market in which he will sell his crop.If the bulk of the honey is dark, or if the main honey flows are slow and protracted, it will not pay toproduce comb honey,since the production of fancy comb honey depends on a rapid flow. The best localities for comb-honey production are in the northern part of the United States east of the MississippiRiver, where white clover is a rapid and abundant yielder. Other parts of the United States where similarconditions of rapidity of flow exist are also good. Unless these favorable conditions are present it is betterto produce extracted honey.  EXTRACTED HONEYExtracted honey is honey which has been removed by means of centrifugal force from the combs inwhich the bees stored it. While it is possible to adulterate extracted honey by the addition of cheap sirups,this is rarely done, perhaps largely on account of the possibility of detection. It may be said to the credit ofbee keepers as a class that they have always opposed adulteration of honey.In providing combs for the storage of honey to be extracted the usual practice is to add to the top of thebrood chamber one or more hive bodies just like the one in which brood is reared, and fill these withframes. If preferred, shallower frames with bodies of proper size may be used, but most honey extractorsare made for full-size frames. The surplus bodies should be put on in plenty of time to prevent thecrowding of the brood chamber, and also to act as a preventive of swarming.  Honey for extracting should not be removed until it is well ripened and a large percentage of it capped. Itis best, however, to remove the crop from each honey flow before another heavy producing plant comesinto bloom, so that the different grades of honey may be kept separate. It is better to extract while honeyis still coming in, so that the bees will not be apt to rob. The extracting should be done in a building,preferably one provided with wire cloth at the windows.
 
The frames containing honey to be extracted are removed from the hive, the cappings cut off with asharp, warm knife (fig. 21) made specially for this purpose, and the frames are then put into the basketsof the honey extractor (fig. 22). By revolving these rapidly the honey thrown out of one side. The basket isthen reversed and the honey from the other side is removed. The combs can then be returned to the beesto be refilled, or if the honey flow is over, they can be returned to the bees to be cleaned and thenremoved and stored until needed again. This method is much to be preferred to mashing the comb andstraining out the honey, as was formerly done.In large apiaries special boxes to receive cappings, capping melters to render the cappings directly intowax, and power-driven extractors are often used. These will be found listed in supply catalogues.The extracted honey is then strained and run into vessels. It is advisable not to put it in bottles at once,but to let it settle in open vessels for a time, so that it can be skimmed. Most honeys will granulate andbecome quite hard if exposed to changes of temperature, and to liquefy granulated extracted honey itshould be heated in a water bath. Never heat honey directly over a stove or flame, as the flavor is therebyinjured. The honey should never be heated higher than 160°F. unless it is necessary to sterilize itbecause of contami. nation by disease.  Extracted honey is put up in bottles or small tin cans for the retail trade, and in 5-gallon square tin cans orbarrels for the wholesale market. Great care must be exercised if barrels are used, as honey will absorbmoisture from the wood, if any is present, and cause leakage. The tin package is much to be preferred inmost cases. In bottling honey for retail trade, it will well repay the bee keeper or bottler to go toconsiderable expense and trouble to make an attractive package, as the increased price received will more than compensate for the increased labor and expense. Honey should be heated to 160°F. and keptthere for a time before bottling, and the bottle should be filled as full as possible and sealed hermetically.Granulated honey.
Some honeys, such as alfalfa, granulate quickly after being extracted. Such honeysare sometimes allowed to granulate in large cans and the semisolid mass is then cut into 1-pound brickslike a butter print and wrapped in paraffin paper. It may be put into paraffined receptacles beforegranulation, if desired. There is always a ready market for granulated honey, since many people prefer itto the liquid honey.COMB HONEYComb honey is honey as stored in the comb by the bees, the size and shape being determined by thesmall wooden sections provided by the bee keeper. Instead of having comb in large frames in which tostore surplus honey, the bees are compelled to build comb in the sections and to store honey there (fig.2). A full section weighs about 1 pound; larger ones are rarely used. By the use of modern sections andfoundation the comb honey now produced is a truly beautiful, very uniform product, so uniform in fact thatit is often charged that it must be artificially manufactured. The purchaser of a section of comb honey maybe absolutely certain, however, that he is obtaining a product of the bees, for never has anyone been ableto imitate the bees' work successfully. To show their confidence in the purity of comb honey, the NationalBee Keepers' Association offers $1,000 for a single pound of artificial comb filled with an artificiallyprepared sirup, which is at all difficult of detection.There are several different styles of sections now in use, the usual sizes being 4 1/4 inches square and 4by 5 inches. There are also two methods of spacing, so that there will be room for the passage of beesfrom the brood chamber into the sections and from one super of sections to another. This is done eitherby cutting "bee ways" in the sections and using plain flat separators or by using "no bee-way" or plainsections and using " fences "
separators with cleats fastened on each side, to provide the bee space. Todescribe all the different "supers" or bodies for holding sections would be impossible in a bulletin of thissize, and the reader must be referred to catalogues of dealers in bee keeping supplies. Instead of using regular comb-honey supers, some bee keepers use wide frames to hold two tiers of sections. It is better,however, to have the supers smaller, so that the bees may be crowded more to produce full sections. To
 
overcome this difficulty, shallow wide frames holding one tier of sections may be used. The majority ofbee keepers find it advisable to use special comb-honey supers.In producing comb honey it is even more necessary to know the plants which produce surplus honey, and just when they come in bloom, than it is in extracted honey production. The colony should be somanipulated that the maximum field force is ready for the beginning of the flow. This requires care inspring management, and, above all, the prevention of swarming. Supers should be put on just before theheavy flow begins. A good indication of the need of supers is the whitening of the brood combs at the top.If the bees are in two hive-bodies they should generally be reduced to one, and the frames should befilled with brood and honey so that as the new crop comes in the bees will carry it immediately to thesections above. If large hives are used for the brood chamber it is often advisable to remove some of theframes and use a division board to crowd the bees above. To prevent the queen from going into the sections to lay, a sheet of perforated zinc (fig. 23) may be put between the brood chamber and the super.It is often difficult to get bees to begin work in the small sections, but this should be brought about assoon as possible to prevent loss of honey. If there are at hand some sections which have been partlydrawn the previous year, these may be put in the super with the new sections as "bait." Another goodplan is to put a shallow extracting frame on either side of the sections. If a few colonies in the apiary thatare strong enough to go above refuse to do so, lift supers from some colonies that have started to workabove and give them to the slow Colonies. The super should generally be shaded somewhat to keep itfrom getting too hot. Artificial swarming will quickly force bees into the supers.To produce the finest quality of comb honey full sheets of foundation should be used in the sections. Some bee keepers use nearly a full sheet hung from the top of the section and a narrow bottom starter.The use of foundation of worker-cell size is much preferred.When one super becomes half full or more and there are indications that there will be honey enough to fillothers, the first one should be raised and an empty one put on the hive under it. This tiering up can becontinued as long as necessary, but it is advisable to remove filled sections as soon as possible after theyare nicely capped, for they soon become discolored and less attractive. Honey removed immediately aftercapping finds a better market, but if left on the hive even until the end of the summer the quality of thehoney is improved. A careful watch must be kept on the honey flow, so as to give the bees only enoughsections to store the crop. If this is not done a lot of unfinished sections will be left at the end of the flow.Honeys from different sources should not be mixed in the sections, as it usually gives the comb a badappearanceTo remove bees from sections, the super may be put over a bee escape so that the bees can pass downbut can not return, or the supers may be removed and covered with a wire - cloth - cone bee escape.After sections are removed the wood should be scraped free of propolis (bee glue) and then packed inshipping cases (fig: 24) for the market. Shipping cases to hold 12, 24, or 48 sections, in which the variousstyles of sections fit exactly, are manufactured by dealers in supplies. In shipping these cases, several ofthem should be put in a box or crate packed in straw and paper and handles provided to reduce thechances of breakage. When loaded in a freight car the combs should be parallel with the length of thecar.In preparing comb honey for market it should be carefully graded so that the sections in each shippingcase are as uniform as possible. No thing will more likely cause wholesale purchasers to cut the pricethan to find the first row of sections in a case fancy and those behind of inferior grade. Grading rules havebeen adopted by various bee keepers' associations or drawn up by honey dealers. The following sets ofrules are in general use:EASTERN GRADING RULES FOR COMB HONEY.

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